A Point of View: Clive James

A Point of View: Clive James

Clive James presents reflections on topical issues ranging from politics to pop culture in this award-winning series of BBC Radio 4's A Point of View. These programmes were first broadcast between 2007 and 2009.

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All episodes (27)

  • Talking About Their Generation 25 DEC 2009

    Fri, 25 Dec 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Nothing could be worse than eternal youth if it meant denying the next generation room to live, says Clive James. Celebrating the scope for human progress, as each generation gives way to the next, he reflects on the energy his own grandchildren give him – yet he does not envy them.

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  • Option Swamp 18 DEC 2009

    Fri, 18 Dec 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Computerised customer service systems are a modern waste of time says a frustrated Clive James - all he wants is a real person to answer the phone.

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  • Hermie’s Ghost 11 DEC 2009

    Fri, 11 Dec 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming and stresses the need for minds to be open and the need for a fair hearing for all voices - including sceptical ones.

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  • Impact 04 DEC 2009

    Fri, 4 Dec 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Living in a democracy can be trying, says Clive James, until you think of the alternatives. A democracy can hope to avoid some of the abuses that even less perfect systems are guaranteed to generate.

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  • Spirit of the Game 27 NOV 2009

    Fri, 27 Nov 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It's the spirit in which a game is played which determines whether Clive James likes or loathes a particular sport.

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  • Blog de Jour 20 NOV 2009

    Fri, 20 Nov 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Following the exposure of the identity of Belle de Jour, the author of The Diary of a London Call Girl, Clive James reflects on how her identity makes us think of a litany of brilliant courtesans.

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  • The Man on the Fourth Plinth 13 NOV 2009

    Fri, 13 Nov 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James celebrates the honouring of Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park with a temporary statue on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth – although the achievements of some people stand so tall, he says, a statue in their honour can never match up.

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  • High Road to Xanadu 06 Nov 2009

    Fri, 6 Nov 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James gives his personal view of the world of drugs and reflects on the seductive allure of illegal narcotics, laying the blame for their attractions at the door of the English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his trip to Xanadu.

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  • On Strike 30 OCT 2009

    Fri, 30 Oct 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James reflects on the postal workers' dispute and gives his personal view of the modern history of labour relations. At the heart of the postal strike is a reminder that the relationship between workers, managers and machines can be difficult.

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  • The Golf Ball Potato Crisp 23 OCT 2009

    Fri, 23 Oct 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Scepticism is important in every walk of life, says Clive James, as he criticises extreme reactions to those who are sceptical about man-made global warming.

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  • Newsflash from the Far East 29 MAY 2009

    Fri, 29 May 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Despite its drawbacks, democracy is the right system for running a country, says Clive James - it just doesn't stack up as the best way of choosing a professor of poetry.

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  • Feminism and Democracy 22 MAY 2009

    Fri, 22 May 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Democracy is the best hope for achieving justice for women, says Clive James, as he celebrates the election of four women to the Parliament of Kuwait. He also criticises feminists in the West for being slow to support women suffering under tyrannical regimes.

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  • Expensive Mistakes 15 MAY 2009

    Fri, 15 May 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The row over MPs’ expenses is a sign of a healthy democracy, says Clive James, as the public outcry over politicians playing the system gains momentum.

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  • Sheer Poetry 08 MAY 2009

    Fri, 8 May 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    The presence of a Poet Laureate is a good indicator of the British attitude to poetry, says Clive James. The job might be difficult to define but it is nevertheless important, because it is a public acknowledgment that the UK cares about language.

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  • London Underground 01 MAY 2009

    Fri, 1 May 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Loft extensions are for ordinary citizens. When the property market gets tough, the wealthy dig down to create the ultimate den, says Clive James – but he thinks it’s a worrying sign that rich people living in the capital are developing a bunker mentality.

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  • Britain Has Talent 24 APR 2009

    Fri, 24 Apr 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    What does the reaction to Susan Boyle’s performance on a television talent show tell us about the progress of feminism, asks Clive James. Is appearance still important – even in the world of serious singing?

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  • Reputational Damage 17 APR 2009

    Fri, 17 Apr 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James reflects on what it takes to make – and break – a good reputation in public life. He concludes that the government’s latest euphemism ‘reputational damage’, to describe the fallout concerning Gordon Brown’s special adviser Damian McBride, is fooling no-one.

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  • Bright Side of the Cane Toad 10 APR 2009

    Fri, 10 Apr 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The cane toad was brought to Australia for pest control - since when an army has marched across the continent, multiplying as it goes. But surely its own example questions the logic of trying to wipe out this gamekeeper turned poacher, says Clive James.

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  • High-Priced Porn 03 APR 2009

    Fri, 3 Apr 09

    Duration:
    10 mins

    After years of watching late-night porn in anonymous hotel rooms - for research - its purpose is clear, says Clive James: to keep one's mind off sex while one's partner is absent.

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  • The Speeding Judge 27 MAR 2009

    Fri, 27 Mar 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James reflects on the downfall of a distinguished Australian judge, who was jailed for perjury after lying about a speeding offence.

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  • New Year Prediction 02 JAN 2009

    Fri, 2 Jan 09

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Getting rich for its own sake will look as stupid as bodybuilding does at the point when the neck gets thicker than the head, says Clive James, as he predicts the end of the era of silly-money.

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  • Jesus 26 DEC 2008

    Fri, 26 Dec 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Whatever you believe in when it comes to the birth of Christ, even if you believe in nothing at all, no one can doubt the personal force of Jesus says Clive James, as he reflects on life beyond the grave, Shakespeare’s beliefs and the man and spirit of Jesus Christ.

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  • It’s a Wrap 19 DEC 2008

    Fri, 19 Dec 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The hardest part of Christmas is not socialising with family, nor hauling coal or peeling potatoes - it's wrapping the presents, says Clive James, as he anticipates with some dread the seasonal tasks awaiting him as he uncovers the deeper meaning of wrapping gifts.

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  • National Identity 12 DEC 2008

    Fri, 12 Dec 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Forget proud traditions and cultural exports - a nation's identity is bolstered if Americans know about it. Just ask the Canadians, says Clive James, as he explores the question of national identity and why it really is preferable to see Santa and his elves in Lapland rather than in the New Forest!

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  • Writer's Room 05 DEC 2008

    Fri, 5 Dec 08

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Are we able to think clearly when surrounded by mess, because chaos is inherent in all our minds - even those of the great writers and thinkers. Clive James reveals why he is glad the chaos of his own office is not featured in a new exhibition called 'Writers Rooms'.

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  • Glamourising Terror 28 NOV 2008

    Fri, 28 Nov 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As a new film on the notorious Baader Meinhof gang is released, Clive James discusses the glamourisation of terror in the movie industry. He argues that the movie version of history is often now in danger of replacing the real historical event.

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  • Bad Language 21 NOV 2008

    Fri, 21 Nov 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The odd expletive escapes most people's mouths in times of stress, but when we fall back on swear words just for effect have we really just run out of ideas? Clive James turns his attention to swearing and argues that bad language used constantly is no language at all.

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  • Robin the Hood 14 NOV 2008

    Fri, 14 Nov 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Rational choices, reasoned discussions, respect for lawful institutions: that's what Clive James says he wants from his action heroes, arguing that the days of mindless Hollywood action are over. He says a new climate of reason prevails - and it extends well beyond Hollywood.

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  • Changing the Government 07 NOV 2008

    Fri, 7 Nov 08

    Duration:
    11 mins

    As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office, Clive James examines the significance of the word ‘election’ and its relationship with democracy depending on the country you happen to live in.

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  • How Rich is Rich? 31 OCT 2008

    Fri, 31 Oct 08

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Forget super-rich baddies who seek to destroy the world with a death ray. Boring! Clive James reflects on how money is losing its cachet, while failing to recycle properly is what leads to accusations of destroying the world.

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  • Gaffes 09 MAY 2008

    Fri, 9 May 08

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James explores the world of the political gaffe – past and present. He argues that it isn’t always the elegant speaker who has the competence for office and at the end of the day, he prefers the verbal bumblers.

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  • Snoop and Amy 02 MAY 2008

    Fri, 2 May 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Why are gifted artists such as Amy Winehouse so hell-bent on destroying their talent - and themselves - asks Clive James, as he explores the concept of talent.

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  • Instructions to the Sea 25 APR 2008

    Fri, 25 Apr 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Clive James turns his attention to political intervention and Zimbabwe, arguing that Robert Mugabe’s time is up. All the world has to do, he says, is to get him to agree.

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  • Legal Dilemmas 18 APR 2008

    Fri, 18 Apr 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    At a time when Iraqis who have risked their lives for Britain in Basra need a newspaper campaign to fight for their right to move to the UK, Clive James asks why is it radical cleric Abu Qatada apparently can’t be allowed out?

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  • Right on the Money 11 APR 2008

    Fri, 11 Apr 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Clive James turns his attention to the Royal Mail’s decision to redesign the coinage. The old coins, he says, did nothing except tell you what they were worth - and what’s the point in that!

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  • Terminal Terminal 04 APR 2008

    Mon, 7 Apr 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The prospect of mobile phones on planes gets Clive James hot under the collar, but he is overjoyed by the disastrous opening of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 – and tells us why it’s the most fun he’s had since the night the Millennium Dome opened.

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  • Pedal Power 28 MAR 2008

    Fri, 28 Mar 08

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James ponders David Cameron’s faux-pas of cycling the wrong way up a one way street and pedalling through a red light. He sets Mr Cameron’s wrong-doing in a rather unexpected historical context.

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  • State of Law 21 MAR 2008

    Fri, 21 Mar 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A court decision about a man and a grape brings back painful memories of Clive James' own life. He reflects on just how much money is spent on legal cases that common-sense suggests should never have gone to court.

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  • Private Life 14 MAR 2008

    Fri, 14 Mar 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Having a private life – an institution once regarded as vital to civilization – is now in danger of collapse, argues Clive James. As amorous emails sent to a lover by an aide to the Mayor of London are published verbatim, Clive asks can it ever be right to help yourself to the private emails, phone calls or text messages of politicians, footballers or your next door neighbour?

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  • Princes into Battle 07 MAR 2008

    Fri, 7 Mar 08

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Clive James reflects on Prince Harry’s time in Afghanistan. He delves into the history books to find another warrior prince who found himself in a very similar situation.

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  • Clams are Happy 24 AUG 2007

    Fri, 24 Aug 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As he sits on a bench in Central Park, Clive James ponders what makes us happy and relives his first slice of watermelon and considers the wise words of Lawrence of Arabia.

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  • Click on the Icon 17 AUG 2008

    Fri, 17 Aug 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James considers the role of the icon – ancient and modern – and focuses on film icons. Who are they? Why do we elevate them to this status? And what is their reaction to the role?

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  • Desirable Devices 10 AUG 2007

    Fri, 10 Aug 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The environmental impact of plastic bags, shopping trolleys and overly loud hip hop music - Clive James applies his imagination and comes up with some unusual technological devices to deal with them.

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  • Smoking the Memory 03 AUG 2007

    Fri, 3 Aug 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Once an 80-a-day chain smoker, today Clive James explains how he, reluctantly, became a non-smoker and now just dreams of smoking.

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  • Harry Potter Envy 27 JUL 2007

    Fri, 27 Jul 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    ‘JK Rowling Envy’ is a psychological condition suffered by many writers, says Clive James, when confronted with the millions of books sold - and the millions of pounds earned - by the author of Harry Potter.

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  • Helplessly Advanced 20 JUL 2007

    Fri, 20 Jul 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As life is made easier by machines which do our thinking for us, will our intellect suffer, asks Clive James. Reflecting on the conundrum of living in a technologically advanced world, he asks whether it will eventually slow future advancement, as it erodes our brain power to build new technology.

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  • Wimbledon Wisdom 13 JUL 2007

    Fri, 13 Jul 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Clive James enjoys the wisdom of former Wimbledon tennis champions whose insights as commentators, he says, double as a philosophy for life.

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  • Glider Shoes 06 JUL 2007

    Fri, 6 Jul 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Marveling at the sight of children gliding in shoes with wheels fixed into the heels, Clive James reckons the secret of happiness is to think how much fun you would have had at the same age.

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  • Reflections on a Diamond Skull 29 JUN 2007

    Fri, 29 Jun 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James gives his personal reaction to Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull and considers its significance as a work of art. It might be worth £50m but it is never-the-less ‘art for all’. Why? Because it's glittering, hollow and perfectly brainless - so you can talk about it to anyone, just like you can Paris Hilton.

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  • Man-Made Beauty 22 JUN 2007

    Fri, 22 Jun 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    There are lots of reasons to be cheerful about the world - many the result of human creativity, says Clive James. It is important to remember not to be miserable, he says, celebrate the good things in life and show others – especially the young – that life really is worth living.

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  • Congratulations! 06 APR 2007

    Fri, 6 Apr 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The thing with hoaxes is that they work – and that’s a good reason for not liking them, says Clive James. Although he has himself performed his own convincing hoax in the past, as have writers Virginia Woolf and Evelyn Waugh, Clive says there is a streak of self-congratulation in every hoaxer which he finds hard to admire.

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  • Torture on 24 30 MAR 2007

    Fri, 30 Mar 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Do television dramas like the hit American series 24 encourage the use of torture in the fight against terrorism, asks Clive James.

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  • Black Destiny 23 MAR 2007

    Fri, 23 Mar 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Are we in danger of placing an extra burden on the shoulders of outstandingly successful young, black people to be representatives for their race, asks Clive James.

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  • Going for Gold 16 MAR 2007

    Fri, 16 Mar 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James criticises the high spending planned for the London 2012 Olympics. It would be much better, he argues, to think in terms of television coverage and forget all the expensive new buildings.

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  • Because She’s Worth It 9 MAR 2007

    Fri, 9 Mar 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    The publicity surrounding the wedding of actress Elizabeth Hurley is the focus of Clive James' attention as he takes a wry look at the world of the paparazzi. Their antics may be justified when their quarry welcomes the attention, but the hounding of others in the public eye is a different matter altogether, he says.

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  • Nob Voices, Yob Voices 02 MAR 2007

    Fri, 2 Mar 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    As Helen Mirren carries off her Oscar for sounding like the Queen, Clive James comments on the way we speak English today. Regional accents on radio and television reflect and reinforce the breach of the class divide but a new noisy voice is less easy on the ear.

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  • Flying People, Flagrant Piffle 23 FEB 2007

    Fri, 23 Feb 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    From Bruce Lee to Jean-Claude Van Damme to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Clive James reflects on the martial arts movie, and says meaningless violence is still meaningless no matter how you dress it up.

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  • Fidgets on the March 16 FEB 2007

    Fri, 16 Feb 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James rails against changes to the names of things we rely on - such as railways and the Royal Mail - as a type of costly and annoying ‘fidgeting’. He points to other disturbing developments in what he sees as a growing misuse of language.

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  • The Mind's Construction in the Face 09 FEB 2007

    Fri, 9 Feb 07

    Duration:
    10 mins

    With a reported growth in cosmetic surgery, Clive James applauds the work of surgeons who repair the ravages of disease and damage to faces from accidents - but what drives people to go under the knife when they don't obviously need to alter their appearance?

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  • Attack of the Wheelie Bins 02 FEB 2007

    Fri, 2 Feb 07

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Clive James reflects on man-made climate change from the standpoint of a sceptic, discussing the power of language to sway opinions when we have neither the time nor the talent to weigh the evidence for ourselves.

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